Susan Summers pursues her dream of working in landscape architecture through the Archway Partnership

November 7, 2016

By Ashleigh Austelimg_2479

As a student pursuing a Masters of Landscape Architecture, Susan Summers is taking a pause from her career with accounting firm in Washington D.C. Summers is one of 17 graduate assistants working with the University of Georgia Archway Partnership to address locally identified needs in the communities served by the unit.

Summers came to UGA to pursue this degree because she wanted to “reset her career.”

“Landscape architecture is such a multi-faceted discipline and UGA has a renowned program. When I got the chance to come here, I decided to go for it,” Summers said.

Working with the Archway Partnership has given Summers the opportunity to enhance her education through hands-on experience. She says that interacting with the people in Archway Partnership communities has given her more confidence in sharing her work. Presenting her work to real clients has allowed her to practice explaining plans and ideas to those who do not have a design background, which has improved her presentation skills in the classroom and to real clients.

Though she has been involved with several community projects since she began working with Archway Partnership in 2015, Summers says that the most impactful one was the Wilbanks Park Restoration Project for the City of Baldwin in Habersham County.

For this project, Summers put together a plan to cost-effectively maximize the use of the city’s land in a park that had essentially become “a big clump of grass.” When she presented her plan to the community at a town hall meeting, it was the first time she had given a presentation in such a setting. The community loved her design plan, especially because of the feasibility, and they voted to begin implementing it immediately.

“It was rewarding to see the faces of the community members that my work was impacting.”

Summers says that her favorite part of working with Archway is the people she is able to interact with in small communities across Georgia.

“As a landscape architect student, Susan has worked with multiple Archway communities on a range of projects over the years. She is the consummate professional and her clients always speaker very highly of their interactions with her,” said Angel Jackson, Archway Partnership operations coordinator and Summers’ supervisor.

When she graduates in December, Summers plans to return to her accounting career but in a new capacity, working for one of the biggest accounting firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers. The firm has several consulting branches and Summers says she has already been discussing with her employer the possibility of working in landscape consulting at some point in the future.

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